They make millions of dollars a year and have a battalion of workers to do the grunt work. But it wasn’t always so for most Big 12 football coaches. Most started out near the bottom of the football food chain. At Big 12 Media Days last week, a few Big 12 coaches talked about their first jobs and what they remember.
Kansas State’s Bill Snyder: “Well, my first position as an assistant coach was in Gallatin, Missouri. This was a high school position. I was an assistant football coach and assistant basketball coach and assistant women’s basketball coach, assistant track coach, drove the school bus, taught four units of Spanish, which I knew nothing about, and I made $6,000 a year. And I thought I’d died and gone to heaven, in all honesty, because I’d never had a paycheck worth very much prior to that.
“But just my experiences over the years, probably the first college position that I had as an assistant coach was at Austin College, not too far from here, up in Sherman, Texas. Bob Mason was the athletic director at the time. The head coach was Larry Kramer, and I made some relationships and friendships there that were forever lasting. I don’t think my salary went up hardly any at all, but, nevertheless, it was an enjoyable experience. I do think I made $19,000 there, but it was just ‑‑ I was around wonderful, wonderful people, which I’ve been fortunate all my life in that regard.
“I went from there to North Texas State University and then to University of Iowa, both who had Hayden Fry, and I was with Hayden for a total of 13 years. In fact, on the way in here, we were just visiting about Hayden, who had a big impact on the Metroplex area here in his time at SMU and North Texas State, and I certainly admired him a great deal and still do and enjoyed my time with him. I don’t know, but I think my highest salary when I left Iowa was probably $60,000.”
Kansas’ Charlie Weis: “Well, there’s a couple of first jobs I’ve had. I’ve started a long way up. I started as a graduate assistant at the University of South Carolina in 1985 working for Joe Morrison and making nothing, and it was probably the best time of my life. I learned that I didn’t know anything. That’s the best thing that happens when you go to college or eventually the NFL. You learn how little you really know. You think you have all the answers, and you get humbled in a hurry.
“But the one thing you always can fall back on ‑‑ two things you always can fall back on: intelligence and hard work. If you have intelligence and you have a very good work ethic, they’re the great equalizer. Actually, it gives you a chance to surpass the equality and gives you a chance to move past some people. But I was making tuition, room, board, books and fees, and there was no money and probably one of my favorite jobs I’ve ever had in my life.”
West Virginia’s Dana Holgorsen: “I would imagine every answer to that question is going to be the same. My first job was Valdosta State. I had as much fun there two, three years as any job I’ve ever had. There’s not a lot of pressure. You’re just excited to be in the game. It’s one of the greatest professions that’s out there. So you’re excited to be in the game. You’re learning. You’re not making any money. So it’s not about that. But you really don’t care when you’re 22 years old. You get a place to lay your head down, and you get a couple of free meals, and you’re happy. It was one of the better jobs that I’ve had, and I imagine everybody else would say the same thing.”